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RCOG statement on BJOG study that suggests light drinking in pregnancy is not linked to developmental problems in childhood

News 17 April 2013

New research, published today in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, suggests light drinking during pregnancy is not linked to adverse behavioural or cognitive outcomes in 7-year-old children.

The study focused on the developmental outcomes of children born to mothers who abstained from alcohol during pregnancy and those born to light drinkers (up to two units of alcohol per week).

The paper finds that children born to light drinkers initially appeared to have more favourable developmental profiles, such as higher cognitive test scores and fewer behavioural problems, compared to those born to mothers who did not drink during pregnancy. However, after statistical adjustment it concludes that these differences largely disappeared.

Dr Patrick O’Brien, RCOG spokesperson, said:

“This paper suggests that light drinking during pregnancy has no significant developmental effects on children age seven. However, as the authors acknowledge, more research is needed to determine the long term effects of maternal alcohol consumption on children.

“The RCOG advises that if a woman falls pregnant, the safest option is to abstain from alcohol. However, if she would like to have a drink the current guidelines suggest that one or two units, not more than once or twice a week, is acceptable after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

“Pregnant women should consult their midwives and GPs if they have any concerns about their alcohol intake.”


For further information, please contact the RCOG Media and PR team on +44 20 7772 6300 or email